SMS guest-posting continues…
Day 1 of the JEC composites conference started out with a Criossant and an hour train ride jam packed to Tokyo standards. The JEC takes up 2 large exhibition halls in the Parc des Expositions near CDG airport. It is full of composite materials manufacturers, tooling manufacturers, and composite part manufacturers. There are some lectures. We attended ones on electric cars, structural simulation, and fireproof resin. There were a lot of booths and we covered most of them the first day. One thing that stick out to me are the thermoplastic composite parts. They are made with re-meltable plastic as opposed to traditional composites that set and cannot be re-melted.
Also noteworthy were the companies with bars in their booths. You won’t see that in America.
On the way home, I stopped in to restaurant Augustin near the hotel. It ended up being upscale. I had a 3 course meal that was more than filling. The Filet Mignon I had was the whole fillet, not just a medallion American-style. They somewhat forgot to cook it and, because it was so thick, came out very rare for my taste. I should have got the duck because it is typically not done well (or at all) back home but I think America has steak nailed pretty well.
Which I’m not :o( ! But you know who is? SMS! Yes, as part of start-up life, he is in France this week! The trip came together just a few weeks ago and unfortunately, my work schedule was already set because otherwise, I would totally have invited myself along! As an alternative to being there, this post features the first ever guest post from none other than SMS himself! Without further ado…
After an uneventful flight to Paris we took a quick train to Gare Du Nord where my colleague Adam and I met up with our business partner and driver, Mr X at Paul bakery. A Pain au Chocolat and espresso later we were off in his Mercedes to St Malo in Brittany. Darkness fell as the hours rolled by and we stopped yet again at Paul bakery for a pick me up.
Several hours into the drive Mr X was markedly fading. I suggested we swap drivers and despite the strict rules regarding who cannot drive the Mercedes, we decided our lives were worth more than the rules of the rental agency so Adam took the wheel. Mr X was fast asleep in the back seat before we even rolled away. An hour of darkness and blinding rain later we arrived at Hotel Escale Oceana. Mr X started off with the receptionist in impressive French but at one point switched to English because he was just so tired. “No” he was cut off mid sentence and back to French it was.
The next day we awoke to a view of the sea from the hotel lobby and a continental breakfast including crepes. Then it was off to work. The streets and parking lot made it apparent that a small car is an asset in France.
We can now skip to lunch followed right by dinner. Hosted by our business partner Simon. Lunch was in Le Bistrot de Solidor. It is located on the leisure harbor where you can go sailing or just enjoy the sights. The water was a beautiful blue green glass color that the Britanians have their own special word for. Something like verglas. The highlight of lunch was the dessert. While not needed, I could not pass up the chance to taste an AOC kougin amman. Delicious. Imagine a Krispy Kreme donut but more dense and covered in salted caramel sauce and salted caramel ice cream. Everything in Brittany is salted and salted butter is a staple.
Dinner was in the walled city center which was just perfect quintessential old Europe. The restaurant name was Absinthe. The others started off with Chat Malo beer and then we moved on to some Burgundy wine and a couple of courses. The wine is less sweet than California wine. Seafood is also a specialty in Brittany.
The next day for lunch we tried galettes and crepes at Creperie Solid’Or. My recommendation is to not order the super local andoullie. One bite and our Simon kindly offered to switch galllettes which I quickly accepted. I was wondering how I was going to get through the remaining three andouilles. Turns out French andouille is tripe. Not my favorite. I was glad to wash it down with the local cider. We finished off the meal with butter sugar crepes. A bit more work and Adam and I struck out on our own to Paris by train with sandwiches and more local cider.
* This week, I have had extra fun email in the form of photos and brief trip updates from my Mom and Dad. They are visiting my sister, brother-in-law, and new little nephew! It looks like they are having so much fun. It is really making me look forward to my trip in April.
* In my text messages, I received a picture from SMS showing off his hotel room that he’ll be staying in when he travels to France for business. Le boo! I wish I was going! Unfortunately, my schedule is booked about 3 months in advance and this trip was planned in the last 2-3 weeks.
* I read Glynnis MacNichol’s No One Tells You This. A highly distilled description is this is a memoir of a woman during her 40th year. It was pretty good. My biggest takeaway is that I really want to go to a Dude Ranch in Wyoming now. This chapter was actually a small part of the story but the descriptions were really beautiful.
* I liked this article regarding the dictum, “Travel like a local.” The author argues that this is ridiculous since locals are caught up in the mundane details of everyday life. While, yes, locals may know of inside spots that aren’t in the guidebooks, it is ok to “travel like a tourist” and take in the sights and wonders of a new place. I completely agree with this perspective. I love checking out the tourist-y spots where I live because they are attractions for a reason! When I travel, I try to stay away from tourist traps when it comes to restaurants but when it comes to landmarks and museums, count me in!